5 More Homeless Lent Credit Cards To See If They Give Them Back

Two weeks ago a homeless person made headlines after a high-powered ad executive lent him her American Express Platinum Card to buy some food and actually got it back from him as promised. But is this behavior really so out of the ordinary? A reporter gave five homeless people pre-paid credit cards to find out.

How panhandlers use free credit cards [thestar] (Thanks to Jacquilynne!)

PREVIOUSLY: Woman Lends Homeless Man Her AmEx Card, Actually Gets It Back


Edit Your Comment

  1. RandomHookup says:

    It’s not explained in the article and I had to go look it up, but LCBO is the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. They run liquor stores in the province, so essentially some of the homeless bought booze.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yeah, I was wondering what that was. I had to look it up.

    • DariusC says:

      Yeah… I figured the LCBO had something to do with liquer because it wasn’t clearly spelt out. Interesting study, but as dolemite said… we already know some people are trustworthy and others are not.

    • JMILLER says:

      Realize the newspaper is the Toronto Star and LCBO in Ontario would be like somebody in the United States saying SS for social security, or CIA for Central Intelligence Agency. The intended reader knows what it means

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        Actually, a lot of newspapers spell it out the first mention because while CIA is common knowledge, it’s still part of policy to be absolutely clear. It’s just good form.

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          Not in this case. The intended reader (the Toronto Star’s clientele) would know what LCBO is an acronym of. In other words: they took the cards and liquored themselves up with them. No surprise at all, considering the homeless in Toronto’s MO when panhandling.

      • RandomHookup says:

        Not complaining, just making it clear for everyone so there isn’t a run on Google searches.

    • mythago says:

      You mean you’ve never seen Strange Brew?

    • TehLlama says:

      Hooray, we enabled alcoholism in the name of journalism. Success!

  2. dolemite says:

    Guess it’s a good thing some of them had limits since some of them immediately maxed out the card. And one of them spent $21 eating out? Couldn’t he buy groceries for at least a few days on that?

    I guess an interesting experiment, but the results just show you can trust some people and not others, which we already knew.

    • msbask says:

      While that seems like a practical idea, where would a homeless person store groceries for several days? Even if they had space at a shelter, what you can bring with you is limited and your belongings are very often stolen.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        Most of the homeless people I see have bags or backpacks big enough to store at least a week’s worth of non-perishables in. If I were a bum & someone gave me their credit card, I’d buy as many PowerBars as my bag could hold.

        • DigTheFunk says:

          First, Phendranna, may I say: I have nightmares about your avatar(but, it’s rather cool). Also, I second your idea—I would go for things like PowerBars, NutriGrain, Hidden Valley(just granola/trail mix/high protein bars in general); next on the list would probably depend on what exactly the person allowed me to spend. If I could invest, I would think something like a “camper grill” would be awesome, and generally not TOO expensive for a kind-hearted person to cover the cost. Then you could eat things like Ramen, grilled cheese, soups/stews….the list gets pretty nice actually with such a simple commodity. Also, it warms my heart that people are still this nice in these times we live in

      • kujospam says:

        Besides, how often do you get a good cooked meal that tastes very very good. and is good. lol Yum. You can’t blame someone for spending too much on food. yom Yom yom

    • phallusu says:

      exactly – i think the maxed out on the cards says alot more than returning something with NO value …. sort of like borrowing a tissue and returning it ‘used’ – an entirely empty act

  3. Bativac says:

    Is giving your credit cards to homeless people going to become the next “trendy” thing to do in urban environments? If so I’m going to pose as a homeless guy and see how far I can abuse this trend.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      The entire idea was borne from the woman in NYC who handed her credit card to a homeless person and to the surprise of probably everyone, the homeless person gave her the card back and didn’t go on a spending spree. We’re so used to the comfortable thought that homeless people are all dirty, horrible people, and that story made a lot of people stop in their tracks.

      It’s not a “trend” – it’s more of seeing how people don’t often fit a stereotype, and that instead of this being the exception, maybe people are truly decent regardless of their circumstances, and that good people don’t turn ugly just because they’re homeless. It’s turning what people always assume on its head and showing people that honesty isn’t determined by how well-dressed you are, or whether you have a home.

      • Skankingmike says:

        Most homeless people either belong in rehab or in mental institutions.

        The rare few that are homeless due to other issues (like losing a job and having absolutely no family on earth that will care for them) are so rare that they make headlines and movies out of them to give this idea of hope. Please don’t use this one time example to rally behind some cause.

        You want to meet the real homeless? Go to Philadelphia at night around 8pm or so (that city dies at 6pm) There’s nobody begging for change at that hour, just crackheads, drunks, and mentally deranged people walking around.

        Most won’t bother you some will go insane on you, many just try to find an air vent for the night.

        Is it sad? yes most of those people exist due to a failed system.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I think you misinterpreted what I said – I’m not advocating a rally behind any cause. I was merely explaining where the experiment came from and why it seems newsworthy.

        • Marshmelly says:

          What part of Philly do you go to that dies at 6PM? haha. I’ve been out pretty late in center city and most people around me are regular people on their way to shows or bars or restaurants or shops….not to say that there aren’t quite a few crazy crackheads as well though, but I wouldn’t say those are all you see at 8PM. lol

        • XTC46 says:

          Actually, there are A LOT of homeless who are not mentally ill/drug addicts…well, a lot that werent that way before they were homeless. Read the book “The Mole People” its about the homeless people in new york who live in the tunnels of new york.

          While drugs etc are the cause of homeless people at times, they are also the result of losing everything and just trying to escape that.

  4. NarcolepticGirl says:

    If I were homeless and someone would have handed me a $50 card, I probably would have bought food, cigarettes and a small bottle of liquor.
    But I would have asked what would be okay to buy and how much. If they said, “whatever…
    then I’d probably spend half of it.
    If they said, “lunch”, I’d buy only lunch.

    But man, If I were homeless, Iw ould certainly be drinking. Otherwise I’d have a nervous breakdown.

  5. c!tizen says:

    I’m wondering how that works when the clerk behind the counter asks to see some ID.

    Clerk: Can I see your ID?
    Homeless Man: I don’t have one, some lady lent me the card.
    Clerk: Riiiiiiiight.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Yeah, one of the guys in the article had that problem.

      But these were pre-paid cards, so I don’t see how looking at an ID would be necessary.

  6. c!tizen says:

    I’m wondering how that works when the clerk behind the counter asks to see some ID.

    Clerk: Can I see your ID?
    Homeless Man: I don’t have one, some lady lent me the card.
    Clerk: Riiiiiiiight.

    • humphrmi says:

      Visa gift cards are pretty clearly marked as such, and don’t have a name on them, so it’s pretty useless to check ID. The merchant usually knows when they’re processing a gift card.

      I’d imagine the only problem would be the LCBO, since you still have to be 21 to buy booze.

    • c!tizen says:

      I don’t know WTF happened here

    • outshined says:

      Haven’t we been through the whole “violates merchant agreement to ask for ID” blah blah about 100 times on Consumerist?

    • QOTSA says:

      I work retail in Canada. The prepaid cards so not have an actual name, it says something like “A Gift got You”. There is no way to identify, it is run strictly like a gift/credit card.

  7. sleze69 says:

    Let me save you all some time:

    FTA –
    Card 1: $50, handed to Jason. Spends $8.69 at McDonald’s. Returns card.

    Card 2: $50, to Mark. Spends $21.64 at The Corner Place restaurant. Doesn’t return. Later spends $15.50 at the LCBO.

    Card 3: $75, to Joanne. Card is stolen. Over two days, $24.95 spent at McDonald’s, $38.35 at the LCBO.

    Card 4: $50, to Al. Card unreturned. Balance remains at $50

    Card 5: $75. Laurie buys $74.61 worth of food, phone minutes and cigarettes at a gas station convenience store. Returns card.

    • benbell says:

      I would recommend reading the entire article as it is a very good read and makes you realize that some of these ‘homeless’ people are no different than you and I, just down on your luck.

      The one disabled woman types at 90+WPM with 98% accuracy (according to her but if she is sending it out on a resume then I would assume she could back it up).

  8. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Excellent article. Most were returned or unused. That’s pretty amazing credit for the goodness of humanity.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I thought it was fantastic that the younger kid didn’t even take it, saying that he had to be honest and say he was doing okay because he had a home.

    • edosan says:

      Hmmm, I read the articles as “of the five cards lent out, three were used to buy booze.”

      • benbell says:

        Didn’t really read the article did you?

        None of the returned cards were used for booze. Of the 2 used for booze, 1 was stolen.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      2 cards out of five were returned. That’s not “most.” That’s less than “most.” Just because “Al” didn’t use the card, doesn’t make him a shining example of humanity.

      “Most” refused the card in the first place. Why? Hard to buy drugs with a Visa.

  9. jshier says:

    Wait, there are homeless people in Canada?

    I also wonder how a similar experiment would play out here in Detroit.

    • Muddie says:

      The article would read the same, just substitute “returned” with “stabbed”.

    • Jfielder says:

      I very seriously would bet that zero of the cards would be returned…

    • DH405 says:

      Reporter goes into a bad part of Detroit (Read : The greater Detroit area) with $250 in $50 Visa cards. Reporter goes to give first card out to a nice-looking homeless man. Nice-looking homeless man beats reporter with a lead pipe (because the copper pipes are all turned in for cash.) Cards are stolen. Reporter crawls back to their parking space. Car is stolen. End.

  10. HannahK says:

    Interesting read. I wish the article clarified whether it was obvious to all the panhandlers that they were being given gift cards, or if they thought he was trusting them with his personal credit card. I’m curious if the woman who returned the card with only 39 cents on it knew that she had permission to spend $50, or if she would have maxed out a real credit card given the opportunity.

    I’m sorry to say that the fact that the cards were used to buy booze just affirms my policy never to give a single cent to panhandlers.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I was wondering that myself. She did put minutes on a phone, so she might have called to find out the balance available.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      “I’m sorry to say that the fact that the cards were used to buy booze just affirms my policy never to give a single cent to panhandlers.”

      Awesome. Good for you and stereotyping!
      Love it!!!!

      Also, if I were homeless – I would certainly by booze.
      Obviously, they use money to eat too. Or they would be dead.
      What else are they going to do? Buy a house? A new Armani suit?
      Save up for a week and purchase a lexus?

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        But why would you buy alcohol and not more food?

        • NarcolepticGirl says:

          Well, from the experience I’ve heard from homeless people (in Boston), basically anything that you have on you when you go to sleep, will probably be stolen. Even at shelters.
          Also, some of them are homeless because they are addicts.
          Some have mental illnesses and post tramatic stress disorder and use alcohol as a self-medication.
          One guy says it calms him down and makes him less nervous.

          I mean, you’re living on the streets in a city with no family, no job, no roof, no food, no money, smelly clothing, in the rain or -10 degree weather.
          Who WOULDN’T want to be drunk?

          I know there are cases when they actually try to save money – but it’s hard when you need to eat or buy new shoes or take the train/bus. Especially if they don’t want to “beg”.

        • Jupichan says:

          You need a bottle if you wanna play “Spin the Bottle” with the pigeons.

        • SuperSnackTime says:

          Why do you spend any single penny you make on anything other than absolute necessities for your survival? Are homeless people magically immune to wanting temporary escape/niceities/luxuries ?

          Besides… if homeless… where the hell are they gonna tuck away $50 worth of extra groceries?

          • pecan 3.14159265 says:

            Maybe I’m just naive in thinking that people still use some kind of logic when it comes to pure survival. if you spent years not knowing whether you would have a meal the next day, you should probably be really, really focused on avoiding hunger, especially since you have all of that experience of NOT having food. If someone gave you a $50 gift card and you could make sure that you had enough food to not go hungry the next week or so, maybe alcohol shouldn’t be in your priorities. Maybe spending that money means another four meals.

            • RandomHookup says:

              Among the homeless, cash goes to things they can’t possibly get free — alcohol, drugs and cigarettes are priorities. There are meals available at shelters and soup kitchens and restaurant dumpsters and even the restaurants themselves (many homeless will turn down a free meal in lieu of some money in the hat). They can get clothing at shelters and agencies and hitting up the lost and found box.

              • Voxxen says:

                Sadly this is true, though of course very stupid. Any intelligent person would be trying to save as much money as possible or buying things that would help them get back to a normal life if food/clothing were taken care of. Liquor/tobacco are already stupid vices, but once you’re homeless they should really stop being a concern.

                The comment made somewhere above about buying expensive food over non-perishables is important to remember as well. Logic goes a long way towards keeping yourself financially secure.

                I’ve put in ~4k hours helping in ways that actually matter instead of giving them money to go be stupid. If you have the time it really is the best way. Otherwise, buy them some food that will last them a while and not just an expensive one-shot fast food meal.

                I also tend to avoid giving anything to people my own age or younger (I suffered through fast food jobs, why can’t they?) or people who smoke (screw you, retard, don’t spend money on that garbage and if someone gives you one then sell it for money to buy something useful.)

        • RandomHookup says:

          Food is actually among the easiest thing to obtain, but it comes in spurts.

        • Traveshamockery says:

          Every city has plenty of places for homeless people to eat. Seriously, in my city there are literally a dozen places within walking distance of downtown that serve three squares a day to people down on their luck.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Also, you could always try and buy them something if you really want to help.
      Like a sandwich or something.

      But I’m guessing these homeless creatures are vile and useless, so it wouldn’t be worth your time.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I get that their lives aren’t full of rainbows and unicorns, and that it’s impossible for me to comprehend how terrible it is to be in that situation and that some of it most likely isn’t their fault. Some pandhandlers really just don’t comprehend the illogical nature of spending the pennies they get to buy alcohol, which doesn’t contribute to long-term solutions or gains (unless you call cirrhosis of the liver “gain”). One woman at least used it for a pre-paid cell phone.

      • msbask says:

        I’m sure it depends on the person. There are more functionally illiterate and mentally disabled homeless people that you can imagine. There is no thinking about long-term solutions. Some of these people can barely think about getting through today, never mind tomorrow.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Most of the homeless people in the article didn’t even take the card. Some said, that they’re not that bad off and to basically give to someone else.

        And all that were used, were at least spent on food.

        But some people, like HannahK probably skipped to the bottom of the article, ignored where they spent it on food and cell phone minutes.
        Instead all they see is that a whole TWO of them spent some money on booze.

        • HannahK says:

          Sorry if you took what I wrote so personally, but I did in fact read the entire article and I simply came to a different conclusion than you. You’re making just as many assumptions about me as you are accusing me of making about “vile and useless homeless creatures.”

          Giving change (or a credit card) to a panhandler will enable them to satisfy their immediate needs but it isn’t going to help them get off the streets and get help with whatever put them there to begin with. I’m fine with my money going to fund public assistance programs like the ones mentioned in the article. I’m not fine with enabling addicts- whether we’re talking about people in my life, or complete strangers on the street. Some panhandlers are undeniably addicts, and there’s no way to know who is and who isn’t, so none of them get my money. It’s not a good investment. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I’m a realist, and I’m not a billionaire.

    • Kristoffer says:

      Never been homeless myself so it’s hard to say what I would and wouldn’t buy. But if someone gave me money, credit card or whatever… I would assume that I have a better chance of getting food from anywhere – even if it’s from dumpster diving. I would rather have something that might help me forget I am homeless… so I would opt for liquor. Especially since the chance of me getting that out of a dumpster is probably zero percent. Now that’s not to say I give homeless folks money everytime they ask – but when I do, I realize that the change in my pocket or a few bucks is not going to help them turn their life around.

  11. backbroken says:

    The only difference between giving a homeless person access to your credit and a rich person access to your credit is that the homeless person won’t immediately try and find a way to get more of your credit.

  12. SweetJustice says:

    Why is it okay to test the integrity of the homeless? Why do we expect less of homeless people than of others? This is disgusting.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I thought the same thing at first.
      I don’t know. I’m about 50/50 on it.

      But basically, it would be strange if someone came up to a regular person and said, “hey want to use my credit card for something?”

      Then the article wouldn’t make any sense.

      And I’ve seen a lot of “hidden” cameras and articles on “testing” the honesty of non-homeless people as well.

      I just don’t like these types of articles because it gives a lot of the general public an excuse to stereotype (like some of the commenters here) even if the majority refused to take the help in first place or give it back.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Think about the credit checks that a lot of employers run on potential employees – what does it reveal about a person’s character if they’re in a lot of debt? Not a whole lot, really. But people go into it thinking that a person who is in a lot of debt is more likely to succumb to greed, bribery, or theft if they felt they could get away with it. It’s the implication that the less you have, the more desperate you might be and the more likely you may be to take part in shady practices.

      People are curious because homeless people are the worst off of all, and it was sort of an experiment into whether people who are in that kind of situation may be desperate enough to be dishonest for gain.

      • AllanG54 says:

        So tell me, what’s the excuse for politicians? They’re into more greed, bribery and other forms of corruption than anyone. Most of them should be homeless or at least jobless as far as representing me.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I don’t think what you’re saying has anything to do with what I’m saying – I was just pointing out that there’s a similar mentality going on with credit checks and homeless people. It’s the mentality that the worse off you are, maybe the more likely you are to steal, and this is why experiements like this raise eyebrows because somewhere in the back of our minds, we expect them to take the money and run.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        IMO, the only things a credit check reveals about a person is if they can afford to pay their bills or not.

        I’m a responsible person, but I have downright shitty credit. It’s so bad I had to put my car in my mom’s name. How did it get bad? Well, I can thank my ex for running up my old store credit cards(Wal-Mart & Best Buy) without my consent, and I can also thank Sallie Mae(that bitch) for aggressively pursuing a student loan that I don’t even rightfully owe. A school I went to about 5 yrs ago basically committed fraud with my student loan after I dropped out, keeping the money despite telling me that they sent it back to SM. And, I can also thank my divorce for dinging my poor credit even further.

        I don’t have bad credit because I’m a bad person. I have bad credit because shit happens & I’m too poor to pay back all the bullshit I got saddled with. So I really, REALLY hate when employers do credit checks, it’s the most unfair thing in the world. I don’t even wanna think about how many good people get turned down for jobs because they have bad credit. It’s a damn good way to keep the cycle of poverty in place. Can’t pay your bills huh? Well, you can’t have a job either.

    • perkonkrusts says:

      Sort of, but if I was homeless, I think 75 free dollars would be a type of disgusting I could probably live with.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      You’re 100% right. Lend me your credit card.

    • Jacquilynne says:

      I’ve read a lot of stories where people do things like drop full wallets on city streets to see how many of them get returned intact, returned minus valuables or never returned. Testing people’s integrity isn’t limited to the homeless, that just happens to be the angle on this particular story.

  13. Scuba Steve says:

    Groceries often times require fridges, microwaves, ovens, and occasionally a home to store them in.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Lots of foods are shelf stable. You interpret groceries to mean “unprepared foods” but anyone can buy a box of crackers and peanut butter and survive off that. To say that the homeless get fully nutritionally sound meals is a stretch – to say they probably got enough to not starve is more accurate. Even a loaf of bread can last a week or two as long as it wasn’t too warm or too cold.

    • slappysquirrel says:

      And get stolen when you go to sleep.

  14. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    The article is very interesting. I really like how the journalist went through the trouble to get a more deeper story of the person after they returned the card.

  15. Eat The Rich -They are fat and succulent says:

    I would like to see this experiment repeated but instead, give the cards to Wall Street types and Politicians. I bet they would spend every dime and then accuse you of holding out and then sue or tax you for more.

  16. perkonkrusts says:

    Why didn’t he just give them cash, and ask for the change back?

    • perkonkrusts says:

      To track purchases, dummy. Still, it would have been interesting to see how many times they returned with a card vs how many times they returned with actual change.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Because he was basing his test on an article about a woman handing a homeless man her Amex card and expecting him to bring in back.

  17. quijote says:

    It kind of bugs me that this story, and the previous one, act like this is some kind of interesting experiment to find out whether homeless people can be good or not–as if they’re a special race of people or something. And the stories seem to expect that they’re generally not good people, otherwise, why would it be surprising that some people give the cards back? They’re ordinary people. I’ll leave aside the question of whether it really would be wrong if they kept the cards.

    • RandomHookup says:

      They are ordinary people, but they have a much higher rate of mental illness and/or substance abuse issues than the population at large.

      • RayanneGraff says:

        This is true. A lot of people get really emotional about stereotypes of homeless people, but a lot of them are based in fact. I’ve offered to buy food for panhandlers only to have them tell me no thanks, they need money instead. Gee, I guess you’re not that hungry unless it comes in a bottle or a baggie, huh?

        Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good people who are homeless because of hard times. But a lot of the chronically homeless people are that way because they have substance abuse problems or mental illnesses.

        • quijote says:

          But the question here is whether they’re more likely to steal, and there’s no evidence, to my knowledge, of a relationship between having mental illness, or even chemical dependence, and being more likely to steal than the average person. Native Americans and African Americans have the highest rates of substance abuse in the US, but that does not mean that they’re more likely to steal from people. Just because some stereotypes are drawn from a few factual anecdotes doesn’t mean that they’re “based in fact.”

  18. tanyaandkarl says:

    This is not a heartwarming tale of human honesty.
    It’s a story about the cynical abuse of asymmetrical power.

    Why didn’t he offer the $50.00 prepaid credit card to bankers, lawyers, or stock brokers? These are also people who have a hard time with prejudice against their honesty. And I bet they like money, too.

    “Hi, Mr. Stockbroker–I’m a reporter passing out credit cards. I will give you this card; go buy yourself lunch at a local, but you must agree to bring it back when you are done. I’ll meet you in your office to pick up the card if it’s convenient.”

    Why did he choose the homeless? It’s harder for them to say “no, thank you.”

    I read the article–the reporter tells the subjects he’s a reporter. This is not consent. The article doesn’t even contain the terms “consent” or “review”, or even casually mention that the study was written up and submitted for approval–something I would expect that the editor has to do anyhow.

    Were these precautions against abuse of the disenfranchised taken? If they were, they weren’t worthy of mention, which tells the reader this isn’t something we should worry about.

    We can PRESUME that the subjects of the study were not directly harmed, but that’s not the point of ethical review.

    What does this say about us?
    It says we believe that if you throw homeless people a couple of bucks, they make great subjects for psych experiments.
    It says if the study has absolutely no scientific merit, and is only performed casually for entertainment or commercial (readership) purpose, it’s STILL OK to use people this way.

    The poor, homeless, young, imprisoned, black, or otherwise disenfranchised are NOT a laboratory for our entertainment or education.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      “Why did he choose the homeless?”

      Because the article was inspired by a real-life story of a woman in NYC lending a homeless man her credit card, and the fact that he returned it. Reporters like to do that sort of thing.

      Get off your soapbox, Comrade.

      Btw, “disenfranchised” means “deprived the rights of citizenship, especially the right to vote.” No one, except maybe themselves, has deprived homeless people of any rights whatsoever.

    • partofme says:

      The gall of reporters. Ya know, a month or so ago, I saw a bunch of reporters did stories about chatroulette. Why didn’t they go to banker, lawyers, or stockbrokers and ask, “Can I see your penis on webcam?” Because it’s easier for them to say, “No.” Sure, we can PRESUME that the penises shown (or censored) on national television were not directly harmed, but that’s not the point of ethical review. What we have learned is that it’s OK to take advantage of that not-yet-identifiable-with-a-single-word group of people who are obviously low class enough to show their faces, or penises, on an internet webcam site. They never consented to scientific, entertainment, or commercial (readership/viewership) purposes. Yet society says it’s STILL OK. What gives?

  19. smo0 says:

    Nice article… but I wonder if the same could be applied to US homeless versus the homeless in Canada… I know the original incident took place in NYC (NYC having a brand of homeless all to their own, actually) but I mean in cities like LA, Chicago, Las Vegas, Detroit…. see what happens then.

  20. slimeburg says:

    Interesting how many turned down the cards. My first thought was that all they wanted was cash for drugs – but there is another side to the coin – if they are homeless and look “grubby” they are probably “contacted” by police regularly. If someone hands you a credit card – even a prepaid one – especially if you don’t really understand how credit cards and prepaid cards work – they may be afraid that the card is stolen and that they can get in trouble for having it or attempting to use it. They are basically betting their freedom on the giver not being crazy or hating homeless for some reason. If I give a homeless guy my credit card – and as soon as he turns his back go to the nearest cop and say he took it by force or threat – then they find it on him – who are they going to believe? My point is just the turn downs may not have been about really just wanting cash for drugs – fear may have also been involved..

    • openminded says:

      That is the most prejudice thing to say. Homeless people have pride too. You could get up one day lose everything you have and your job and guess what you could be homeless too. They don’t choose this life style, things happen. So for the first thing to come to mind is drugs thats terrible.

  21. El-Brucio says:

    Ehhh, this makes my cynicism sense tingle.

    People behave differently when they are being watched – and giving someone a credit card is far enough out of the ordinary that they’d be leery and feel something strange was happening.

    While I’m sure that there are always a few temporarily homeless people who could be just like me but down on their luck, most of them have some kind of substance abuse problem, mental illness, or a combination of both. You are far better off donating money to local charities that are working to feed and cloth the homeless, as well as helping them get off the streets, as well as sending letters to the various levels of government asking for more funding for homelessness issues.

  22. FrugalFreak says:

    “Laurie, 44, is living on the streets in the west-end and couch surfing with friends, including her ex-husband. In addition to diabetes, she takes medication for manic depression and has been diagnosed as having fibromyalgia. She must use the chair to get around and takes about 30 pills a day. She’s on a list to get into a co-op.”

    the stories about people with mental illnesses are so sad, they are good people with good morals but they are shunned from the workforce. My Sister is one of these people. she had worked ALL her life and is honest, but because of her illness it makes it near impossible to get hired and stay hired due to her disorder.

    There needs to be a work program to help good people with Bi-polar and other mental illnesses. They don’t deserve the treatment they get.

    • RayanneGraff says:

      Agreed. And there needs to be a re-education of society about mental illness too, so the damn stigma goes away. I’m a bipolar sociopath & I have to keep it a secret if I want to be able to find jobs. I’ve had to learn to be a damn good actress too so that nobody suspects I’m ‘crazy’.

      People nowadays think that if you have a mental disorder then it automatically means you’re dangerous & violent, which is just not true in most cases. Yeah, I’ve got bats in my belfry but I DO know right from wrong. I’m not just gonna snap at any moment and leap onto the boardroom table & start slashing people’s throats.

      • womynist says:

        –noun Psychiatry
        a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

        Just curious, but doesn’t this definition contradict what you said about knowing right from wrong? I just want to make sure you used the correct word, because “sociopath” is a pretty stigmatizing way to refer to oneself.

  23. tanyaandkarl says:

    Google “homeless voting” and you’ll see that the homeless are fairly effectively disenfranchised.
    This is as much a problem as a poll tax or reading test ever was.
    It’s a population with a high potential for abuse. You’ve heard of “Bumfights”? Again, GIYF if not.

    But that’s not what caught my attention. This is:
    “Comrade”? Wow.
    It’s been over twenty years ago, since I saw the old “Are you or have you ever been a member of a subversive group?” on job applications, and even at that, only deep in cow and corn country.

    Very nice troll–over the top, humorous, and delivered straight.
    Poe’s law applies, and here I’ll assume for the moment you’re not a whacko.
    Thanks for the reply–you’ve made me laugh on a Monday.

  24. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:

    I remember one Thanksgiving night I ran into a homeless guy. I didn’t have any change so I went up to my apartment, got some spare change (like five bucks worth) and came back down. I hand him the change and he says, “Oh. I thought you were going to get me a sandwich from Burger King or something.” I was dumbfounded. Not even a ‘thank you’ either.

    Moral of the story: some people are homeless for a reason and deserve to be. And no matter how much you give them, they will never get off their asses and pull their own weight. Never. And sadly, most of them aren’t anywhere near as desperate as they pretend to be. They’re just lazy. I have a lot more respect for people who fish bottles and cans out of the trash. At least they’re DOING something.

    If someone asks you for money to buy food, you’re better off giving them food or pointing them to the local rescue mission.

  25. mowz says:

    For a while when I was in high school, I lived near a suburb that had a good number of homeless people. My friend and I would feel bad for them, but we also didn’t want to enable whatever addictions they might have by just giving them cash. So instead of cash, we would go to fast food restaurants, or semi-fast food restaurants, and purchase food coupons and give them to the homeless who would ask for money. You wouldn’t believe how many times a homeless person would ask for money so they could buy food, but turn down the food coupons we would try to hand them.

    On another note, I’ve often thought about what I would do if I ever became homeless. My first instinct would be to commit a crime so that I would be sent to jail. Three hots, a cot, and a roof over my head.

  26. mcgyver210 says:

    What is more wrong is that the homeless could use the card at all which is technically unauthorized use since they aren’t the card holder.

  27. Big Mama Pain says:

    Laughing at the bleeding heart liberal comments that romanticize homelessness.

  28. phallusu says:

    rinse & repeat rinse & repeat rinse & repeat rinse & repeat rinse & repeat rinse & repeat …. hey everybody – let’s find an idea and beat it into the ground until you’re ready to scream at the mention of it

    ps the homeless actually have values – it’s like they’re human beings or somethin’